Fernando Alonso recovered from an engine issue in Q2 to take an important pole position for Ferrari at the Singapore Grand Prix.
The double world champion encountered a problem with the engine mapping resulting in a loss of performance. After a system reboot, the Ferrari was back up to speed and the Spaniard rewarded the team with his second successive pole.
Alonso fended off a strong challenge from pre-race favourite Sebastian Vettel – who looked all weekend the quickest in the Red Bull – but the young German had to be content with second on the grid.
Vettel began his final flying lap in a provisional seventh place after making a mistake earlier in Q3, and despite being comfortably up on Alonso’s time through the first sector, he faded over the remainder of the lap and was left in second position, 0.067 seconds down on his rival’s best time of one minute, 45.390 seconds.
While the Scuderia celebrated Alonso’s pole, it was a complete contrast for team-mate Felipe Massa. The Brazilian will start from the back of the grid following a suspected engine problem during Q1.
Locking out the second row is the McLaren Mercedes team, with Lewis Hamilton taking third ahead of Jenson Button. Last year’s race winner Hamilton should be feeling pretty encouraged to be only a tenth of a second adrift from Vettel’s faster Red Bull.
As for the world championship leader Mark Webber, the Australian is disappointed to line up fifth in the Red Bull.
Rubens Barrichello lines up sixth for Williams ahead of Nico Rosberg in the Silver Arrows and Renault’s Robert Kubica. For Michael Schumacher – competing in his first appearance at the Singapore street circuit – the Mercedes GP driver will start in ninth with Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi rounded out the top ten.
In the battle of the second division of Formula One, Virgin Racing took the honours with Timo Glock taking P18, with a late challenge from Lotus Racing’s Heikki Kovalainen allowing the Finn to get ahead of Lucas di Grassi.
Jarno Trulli lines up in P21 ahead of Formula One returnee Christian Klien, who left his HRT team-mate Bruno Senna behind to join Massa on the back row.
As for Nico Hulkenberg, who recorded the twelfth fastest lap time, the Williams driver will start from P17 due to a five-place grid penalty after a gearbox change.
So with the five championship contenders at the sharp end of the grid, Sunday’s race around Marina Bay is going to be exciting and dramatic. There may even be a chance of rain! Only 24 points split the top five drivers and with 25 points up for grabs for the race victory, who will it be? We will find out after 61 laps under the bright lights in Singapore.
Qualifying times from Singapore:
1. Alonso Ferrari 1:45.390
2. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1:45.457
3. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:45.571
4. Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:45.944
5. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:45.977
6. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:46.236
7. Rosberg Mercedes 1:46.443
8. Kubica Renault 1:46.593
9. Schumacher Mercedes 1:46.702
10. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:47.884
11. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:47.666
12. Petrov Renault 1:48.165
13. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:48.502
14. Heidfeld Sauber-Ferrari 1:48.557
15. Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:48.899
16. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:48.961
17. Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:47.674*
18. Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1:50.721
19. Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1:50.915
20. di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1:51.107
21. Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1:51.641
22. Klien HRT-Cosworth 1:52.946
23. Senna HRT-Cosworth 1:54.174
24. Massa Ferrari No time
*Five-place grid penalty for gearbox change